To Those Who Teach

It was their first day of school. Pictures had been taken in front of the house with new backpacks being held by excited and nervous hands.
We said a prayer and then walked them to their classroom.

A little over a week before I had taken quite a fall which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. My legs were still wobbly, I needed help to walk and mentally I was in a dense fog.
Yet, my Momma’s heart beat wild and fierce at the thought of my babies reaching this milestone.

I had concerns as many parents do when their kiddos take such big leap with such little legs.

Would they be scared?
Would they be liked by peers? Would the staff be kind to them? Would they understand the curriculum?
Who would show love to them throughout a long 7 hour day? Would they test well?
Would they still laugh a million times a day?
Would they miss me?
Would they know they are amazing?

That first day, I saw the girls relax the moment they got to their classroom. The smiles were from ear to ear. The look they gave their teachers was one of adoration. My heart began to calm.

Here we are at the end of the school year, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I found over this year that there are many kind, generous and caring souls that are intertwined into the fabric of our lives now.

Thank you for always having a smile for my little one.
Thank you for telling her she did a great job!
Thank you for caring enough to call me and talk when needed.
Thank you for teaching on days when you didn’t want to be there because your own heart was heavy.
Thank you for making my girl think she is your favorite.
Thank you for pushing them to do better and doing a happy dance when they accomplished a tough goal.

Thank you for showing her how to paint, to sing with vibrato, to hurdle, to work on pronunciation, to write her name, to sing in Spanish, to navigate a computer, to talk about feelings and to be independent.

We know you get tired.

You may have had a rough past year, yet you still smiled at the innocent faces walking through the door each day.

Most of all, thank you for loving my girls and all of the other little scholars.

You do, you know.

We can tell.

They can tell and this Momma wants you to know that they loved you back.image

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Worth More Than Gold

Worth More Than Gold

 

A couple of years ago, while Everett was out of town on business, the girls picked up a card, some chocolate and a cute little sign. It simply said “I love that you’re my Dad”.

They do have a pretty awesome Dad. 🙂

He often makes their favorite snack. Old fashioned popped corn with a glass of chocolate milk. He fixes their bikes, and helps them learn to ride. He builds them a fire to roast marshmallows. He ensures they brush their teeth like a pro.

He also says things like….

“You are such a sweetheart.”

“That was so kind of you.”

“You are amazing!”

I love that he speaks to build their character and self-esteem along with letting them know the obvious…they are stinkin cute!!!

I was blessed with a wonderful Dad too. He encouraged me by never telling me I wasn’t good enough. I knew in his eyes I was good enough. My brothers and I also were privileged to witness on a daily basis….unconditional love. There was no doubt of his love for my Mom. They still act like they are dating. 🙂

Lately I have talked with friends and acquaintances that have not been so lucky. 🙁

Some grew up without a father.

Some had a cold and distant relationship with their Dad.

Some could never measure up to the high expectations set.

Some were even hurt by their Dad or father figure, physically or emotionally.

For some, the wounds of their heart still run deep.

Often they think there is something wrong with them because a seemingly normal life eludes them. Friends, family and relationships are complicated and unfulfilled. Yet others around are living a storybook life.

If this is you or someone you love, can I let you in on something?

You are good enough. You are better than good enough. You are incredible.

You were created to be cherished, to be loved, to be encouraged, to be believed in.

You are not to blame.

You tried.

Really hard.

Life taught you lessons at a tender age.

Please know….you are also worth more than gold.

Your heavenly father loves you so much that the finest of jewels did not have enough value to represent your worth.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

God loves you unconditionally. He will never hurt you. He encourages you. He delights in you. He even sings over you. He is so proud of you.

Yes, even you who has made a lifetime of mistakes.

I had to learn the hard way. Although I was surrounded by love and encouragement in my life, I still had my own personal battles to fight. My quiet, shy, good girl persona caused me to turn to alcohol at a very young age. When I turned 30, a lifetime of poor choices came closing in on me and I hated myself. I thought that God despised me because I despised me.

Yet it was through that extremely difficult time that I saw for the first time how much God really loved me.

Don’t let the enemy pitch a tent and camp out in your mind!

On the days when those nagging thoughts of low self-worth creep in, consider the source.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 

I promise you. God wants to fill that void in your heart. He has a listening ear.IMG_8704

If you find yourself in a store one day and you see a little sign that says “I love that you’re my Dad”, I hope you smile and breathe a prayer of thanks to the One who calls you daughter.

You are finer than gold, my friend….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hurt on a Rainy Day

cs lewis quoteIt was a cool rainy morning, and I dashed out of the coffee shop and into the warmth of my van. I sat there for a couple of minutes, just thinking of the conversation I had with the kind soul. My heart wanted to weep, and I whispered a prayer as I drove off to get my daughter from school.

It’s not every day that one has a heart to heart talk with someone. What I soon realized what this was not an ordinary day. Over the next few hours I saw a friends eyes fill with tears as she tried to make sense of family turmoil. I wished for a nugget of wisdom to share. I hugged her. I asked our Maker to wrap her extra close that night.

As I was getting dinner on the table that evening, I thought of the middle aged man who had stopped and talked to me as my little one and I were on a walk. Time, life, and lost confidence had taken its toll. He wondered if he would ever get back to the place in which his career thrived. The long and empty days had turned to months, then years. He wishes to remember that feeling. Purpose.

After the house was quiet that night, I thought of the sweet Grandma that began to share a little bit about her life story, her childhood and then the way too early loss of her husband. At some point, her eyes clouded and she said in a low voice something about it being a very hard life. I could only give a sympathetic nod and say “ I am so very sorry….”.

Later on I told my husband about the events of the day and commented that there are simply a lot of hurting people in our world.

The interesting thing about hurt is that it touches us all. A human common denominator. It pays no regard to social status, degrees, bank account balances, age, race, gender, personalities or political parties. You can’t always know its arrival or departure times.

What you CAN always count on though, is that hurt will bring people together. Maybe from the ones you least expect. Some of the strongest people I know have been down some rough roads. It can change you for the better. It can give you a heart of compassion. It can cause you to hit your knees. It can take your hand and walk you through a new door.

If your pain is raw today, I pray for strength.

If the hurt is a faded memory, I pray for perspective.

Whatever your story, remember the One who is writing it. He really does see you. He knows the outcome. He wasn’t surprised by the situation that causes that ache in your heart.  He loves you beyond your imagination.

 

 

 

 

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Change

DSC00780Today, one of my littles walked in the house and I saw it. Her eyes. They spoke words her lips would not form.

I have seen that look before…in a strangers eyes, a new co-workers eyes, and even my own as the mirror dared just a passing glance.

Change. A simple word with so many complexities.

It is often wrapped in beautiful papers, words have been scripted on the finest parchment, and the bow has been meticulously looped and tied with care. But with the precious gift of change there are usually moments, days and for some…. long seasons of wistfulness and reflection.

I called it a gift because of my own frame of reference. I will be the first to proclaim that I do NOT covet change! Quite the contrary. J There is true comfort in using the same coffee cup each day, sitting in the same chair, with the same blanket, and quietly contemplating life, reading the words of the One who loves me and triple checking my calendar. Yet, I have found the gift of change has brought new friendships, strengthened old ones, stretched me out of my comfort zone, and opened unexpected doors.

Back to my little munchkin. You see, we moved to a new house this past week. The kiddos were part of the house hunting process all along and they were so excited and filled with anticipation. The first couple of nights they stayed up way too late. Full of giggles and silliness. They adore their new rooms, love riding bikes in the cul-de-sac and have thoroughly enjoyed playing with some of their classmates and new friends in the neighborhood. We have met many of our neighbors and have felt welcomed.

Yet tonight, she missed the familiar. The back yard gate she knew she could walk through at any time, the little friend who was always ready to play, the boundaries she had been used to, the friend who is like a big sister, the lights and sounds of the house she has known since a toddler.

I saw the look. We talked. We laughed. We hugged. I reassured her that those things were not lost, just different.

She took a deep breath and jumped up to play some more. What teachers these sweet girls are to me.

I sat in the dark quiet of my new living room for a long time after they were all sound asleep. I wondered about all of the many people who, even tonight…. saw the look in a mirror as they walked by. I pray that they know that what they had is not lost. It may be different, but not lost.

I made myself go buy a few coffee cups at a second hand store the other day. The one I happen to be using now has this scripture on it. “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace”. Romans 15:13

Change. There will be good days and not so good days but God can and WILL fill you with all joy and peace. And one day very soon…the new of today with be the comfort and familiar of yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Beautiful Crimson

Yesterday I found myself at the ER again because I hadn’t been able to eat or drink since Sunday, and I had these 2 pesky bruises around my eyes that was concerning me.
The staff was so kind and said their job that day was to get me feeling better and on my way.

The doctor was one of the nicest I have met in a long time. He interrupted me towards the end of my chief complaint to….get this….validate what I was saying and then took time to explain.

The dehydration I knew about. I needed IV fluids. Like yesterday.
Then he started to explain about the eye bruising. First of all, it’s common with a head injury. He even had a fancy name for it. Whew. I wasn’t leaking brain fluid into my eyelids as I had thought!

He went on to say that some of my symptoms of headache/nausea may last just a few more days or several weeks. Then he said this…which has stuck with me. “Blood inside the vessel is a beautiful thing, but when even a drop gets outside the vessel it becomes an irritant”.

That is so true!!! Except at Calvary. The blood became even more beautiful outside of “the vessel”. It looked at the ugliness of sin, sickness, disease, hatred, evil and then it covered all of that in pure beautiful crimson.

I didn’t deserve it. He gave his life for me because He loved me. You may not feel like you deserve it, but guess what….He loves YOU so much. You may think your life is an ugly mess. He sees beautiful…..
John 3:16

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The Beach, the Mountains and His Rest

Yesterday I saw a picture of white sand, the bluest of water and Adirondack chairs that said “Somewhere is an empty beach chair with my name on it”. I instantly saved it to my phone for future daydreaming. Of lounging in the chair that said Rhonda. 🙂

The beach draws me. The scent of ocean, candles, seagrass, sunscreen, and my beloved coffee beckons me to come and rest.
When I take the time to save, plan, pack, and make the journey….it is there that I drop my bags to the wide plank wood floor and exhale.

Your idea of rest may not be a beach. Maybe, like my better half, all you need is an ultralight, fresh streams, a Panther Martin, and the mountains of Colorado.

Every now and then we all need take our weary selves to our happy place. Whether it’s a beach, a bustling city, the mountains, a golf course, camping, Italy or our own back deck……we make it happen. The rest doesn’t just automatically come to us. Bummer.

Why is it then that when our hearts and souls are in need of emotional and spiritual rest, we often expect it to just happen?

We pray for it. Sometimes. And then wait for it to arrive and get frustrated when after 2 or 3 days we are still running ragged, fighting with those closest to us, distracted by life’s cares and wonder why the heavens are seemingly silent.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I don’t know about you but I have been so guilty of only reading the second half of this beautiful passage. I get it that He knows I have heavy burdens that make me weary and He is the rest I need. What I often overlook is the “Come to me” part.

Just like I plan, put it in my calendar and take the time to make the beach journey…..I need to hear His words that beckon. Come to Me.

And do you know what is really awesome? He says “Come to Me….and I WILL.
Not….I might…
If you pray enough….
If I find you deserving…
If you have made good and wise choices this week…
And on and on.

His Word is clear and precise.

I will give you rest.

One of my favorite hymns….

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”

Yes, I am sure there is a beach chair with my name on it and at some point this year I will curl up in it. But even better, the One who made the sand, filled the sea, makes the sun rise each day…He has my name on His hands.

He is always reaching for me. He is always reaching for you.

My load of cares, worries, disappointments, frustrations, baggage, fears, expectations, busyness, and exhaustion can all be eased off my shoulders.

He only asks….Come to Me.

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands….” Isaiah 49:16

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Letting them Walk…

I wasn’t prepared for this. How often I have seen those words or even said them myself since becoming a parent. I wasn’t prepared for this. Often that phrase is used in describing things like lack of sleep, endless laundry, cooking dinner with one on a hip and one grabbing your ankle, showering at 8:35 pm because they are finally off to slumber….

All of that is real, and exhausting but I have found just over the past year, there is something much deeper that I wasn’t prepared for.

You don’t see a lot of blogs about it because to be quite honest, it’s not an easy read. There aren’t 3 easy steps or Pinterest pins to frame the words that just flowed from a weary heart.

I wasn’t prepared to love this much. The knot in the throat kind of love. To see absolute greatness in the innocent eyes that trust you completely yet also see little shoulders that slump. Lips that quiver. Voices that soften to a whisper to share what their tiny heart is screaming.

Some have called it tough love. It’s tough because we realize these little people are learning life by doing. How I would love to make each day of my kids lives be rainbows and unicorns, but they are walking the path that we all are walking. They have seasons where their feet are unsteady. It would be so easy for me to reach out, scoop them up in my arms, and say “let me do that”.

But we let them walk….this walk called childhood. They laugh. They cry. They get scared. They squeal with delight. They make mistakes. They excel. They love. They get angry. They forgive. They snuggle close. They play.

Then when they lay their head on their pillow to rest, we scoop them up in our arms. We pray words of life and purpose and potential and kindness over them. We ask the angels to protect them. We whisper that they are perfect and exactly what God designed them to be.

I wasn’t prepared for this but I was hand picked by the Great Creator for this. To be this mom to these wee ones. In this moment.

You were hand picked, my friend. If life is swallowing you up right now, bills are piling, teens are giving the silent treatment, or babies are up all night….always remember this. You may not feel adequately prepared but take great assurance that you are loved, and watched and followed closely by our Heavenly Father who is letting you walk it out.

Tonight, when all is quiet and you lay your head on your pillow to rest, I hope you hear His whisper that says “you are perfect and exactly what I designed you to be.”

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

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Peace on Earth

This has always been my favorite time of the year. It seems that strangers are a little kinder, smiles are a little softer and eyes are a little brighter. At least the eyes of my 3 girly-girls at the thought of the magical!

There is something about the scents of Christmas, the food, the laughter, the games around the table, the lights on the tree, and the music. Oh how I love the music!

One of the most quoted scriptures around this time is Luke 2:14. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Peace on earth. We see that phrase everywhere. It’s on greeting cards, candles, gift bags, home decor and even junk mail. What does that really mean?

Most often we think of “world peace”, but sadly know we are so very far from that. Yet it was declared. Peace on earth.

I woke up today thinking of many who will not start this day with much peace as the world defines it. There will be no dressing festive and grabbing a coffee as you spend the day filling your arms with packages for your loved ones. No, your day will be worlds away from the ideal.

To the Mom who woke up to sounds of beeping and alarms from the machines hooked up to her precious one. You feel as if there is no air in your lungs at times. You wonder about the days to come.

Peace on earth.

To the Dad who spends too much time worrying about how his family will survive financially. You wish you could just wrestle with your kiddos instead of wrestling with the anxiety of the responsibility to just make ends meet.

Peace on earth.

To the one who tries to avoid looking at the empty chair at the dinner table. You are begging God to help you get through the holidays and hope you can smile for the sake of those you love who are still with you.

Peace on earth.

To the couple who has everything. Jobs. House. Cars. Clothes. Decor. Fine dining. Most people envy you….yet last night you fell asleep in tears. Again. You long for completeness. You pray for healing.

Peace on earth.

John 14:27 says….”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

You see, I think that is what the true miracle if this season is. It’s not the wonderful traditions we all hold dear. It’s not anything we will find wrapped with a pretty ribbon under our tree. It won’t be found tucked in our stocking with care.
It’s the gift of peace. The real kind. Peace that you can’t quite explain. It shows up at the most unexpected times.

It’s at those times we stand a little taller, take a deep breath in, smile at a memory, relax for a few moments, and hear His gentle words again….”My peace I give you.”

It’s then that although circumstance haven’t changed, your heart has. It’s content.

You are not alone, He does hear you, it’s going to be ok.

You know beyond a doubt that there truly is Peace on earth.

 

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A Child’s Faith

Every now and then I see glimpses of the strongest faith, courage and determination ever. It’s usually in the form of a little one who is still learning her ABC’s and is mispronouncing words. Yet in Gods infinite design she has wisdom Solomon craved.

Last week I was miserably sick and after saying bedtime prayers with Charlie I asked her if she wanted to pray for me to get better.
Charlie: No.
Me: No?? Ummm….why?
Charlie: Because you are going to be fine when you wake up!
Me: Really? How do you know that?
Charlie: Because Jesus is healing you right now!

I just stared at her and thought wow….if I could have an ounce of that kind of faith. I think this is why Jesus liked having the little kids all around. They heard. They believed. They adored. They lived.

A few weeks ago, Miss Charlie had her 3 months post-chemo scans. It was a challenging day and the readings of her scans were not clear or definitive. We immediately put them on a disc and sent them off to Texas Children’s Hospital and are now waiting for Dr. McClain’s email or phone call.

Some days I worry. Some days I don’t think about it and just get kids dressed, bathed, fed, and snuggle them close. Some days I cry. And then some days I get a nugget of faith whispered into my ear by a 4 year old and it reminds me that there is nothing to fear.

I choose to hear. I choose to believe. I choose to adore. I choose to live. Really live.

Matthew 11:25
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

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A Broken Picket Fence

Miracle on 34th street is one of my favorite movies! The best part is when they drive up to the house and there it is…as perfect as little Susan imagined! I would grab a Kleenex and think to myself…..one day. And mine will even have a picket fence in front. 🙂

A few years ago, “one day” happened in our world but it wasn’t at all like I had anticipated.

We had always wanted to foster and adopt. We talked about it way before we ever knew there would be no miniature “us” running around the house. It was a sad day to hear the news but we were truly ok with it. My heart goes out to the many hurting today for the same reason. We were ok, but it still hurt to the core.

For the next several years, as life took over and dreams were filed away like yesterday’s mail, we still knew our “one day” would come.
September of 2008 was when it all got serious. 🙂 I left my profession of 22 years. We took an anniversary trip to the beach. Ahhhhh. My happy place.

We began taking a foster/adoptive classes at DHS each Thursday night for 10 weeks. During those classes, we experienced laughter, fear, empathy, smiles, tears, reassurance and heartbreak.

One of most odd questions on a form asked us to describe how we pictured our family. We assumed it would be one of different ages, likes and dislikes, an array of skin tones and maybe even accents and dialect that was not like our own. The most important thing to us was knowing this was actually going to happen! Our house which had been relatively quiet for 18 years was about to change!

When I expressed concern over how I would be emotionally if and when any of the children left our home, I had a dear friend and mentor tell me this. “Yes, your heart will be shattered into a thousand pieces but just remember its either your heart that gets broken or theirs.” That messed me up. Truly.

It all became a little clearer that day. The day I realized our family unit may never look ideal. We may not have years to pour into someone’s life. Then again, we might. Whether its a lifetime, years, months, days or even just a night, we get to be a safe haven for someone who needs it. I was thankful, humbled and a little nervous for the home the Great Architect was designing for us.

As the months passed by, our picket fence became a little scratched up , there were holes in it, some pieces of wood became wobbly and unsteady. The same latch on the gate we grabbed with enthusiasm to welcome someone with smiles and excitement, was the latch we gripped to hold ourselves up as we watched them leave. We had tears. Our hearts would ache desperately for things to just be different.
We decided early on to love on the kiddos that were placed with us….and not hold them at arms length.

As God would have it, 3 of the little ones placed in our arms needed a forever home. Yes we knew it wouldn’t be easy, but is Love supposed to be easy?

Love says yes when self screams no. Love gives when self needs.
Love stays when self wants to adventure out.
Love is content when self whispers for more

Find the good in a chaotic day. Laugh when you want to explode. Speak peace when surrounded by life’s noise. Cry when you need to….it’s really ok. Our Creator has a bottle full of your tears with your name on it. And He treasures it.

Be free to embrace your reality and see it for the gift it is. All of it. The beauty, the mess, the joys, the mistakes, and even a worn down picket fence that has seen better days…..

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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